Is a Multivitamin a Waste of Money?
There’s a heated debate raging over multivitamins right now.
On one side, those is support of multivitamins argue that the average American diet does not meet basic nutritional requirements. This can leave your health at less than its best. Another problem is that nutrition levels in our food supply are on the decline. That means a carrot you eat today is not as good for you than a carrot you ate when you were a kid. Recommended daily allowances are also a problem. They are set too low. Getting the RDA for any single nutrients will prevent deficiency. But it’s hardly a recipe for perfect health.
Faced with these circumstances, a good multivitamin may be what you need to ensure you’re getting the nutrients your body needs so that you can enjoy a high quality of life and possibly avoid disease later.
On the other side, naysayers say that multivitamins are a waste of money. They argue that vitamins don't provide any real health benefit in terms of disease prevention or lifespan.
So who’s right?
The Great Debate Over Multivitamins
As long as you take the time to choose a multivitamin that makes sense for you and your specific health needs, then it can be a smart investment. But if you buy the cheapest multivitamin you can find with little thought to what’s included, then you’re probably just wasting money.
Today, I’m going to share some tips you can use to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth and enjoying real health benefits from your multivitamins.
Before we get started, let me clarify that the best nutrition comes from healthy food choices. But even with a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and good-for-you fats, chances are high that you aren’t getting as much of some nutrients as you need. This is due in large part to the decline in the nutrient density of our foods. The vitamin and nutrient levels in our fruits and vegetables have been dropping for decades.
This combined with the fact that most American’s simply don’t eat a healthy diet is why organizations like the Harvard School of Public Health and the Linus Pauling Institute recommend a multivitamin.
Your nutritional needs and gaps are going to be different than the next person’s. So, it’s important to consider a number of things before selecting the best multivitamin for you.
Identify Your Health Risks and Needs: Consider your primary health concerns. You can figure these out by looking into your family history of disease. You should also take into account any risk factors your doctor has talked to you about in the past. Some things you might want extra nutritional support for might be:
- Heart disease
- Eye health
- Digestive health
- Low energy levels
Multivitamin formulas exist for most conditions like these. They’ll contain extra ingredients meant to give your body extra support.
Age and Sex: As you age your nutritional needs change. And men and women have different needs as well. Consider multivitamin formulas targeted at your age group and your sex.
Primary Nutrients: Make sure the multivitamin you choose contains the basics. It should have vitamin A and beta-carotene, a mix of B vitamins, and vitamins C and D. It should also have vitamin E preferably with both tocopherol and tocotrienol. Vitamin K is important, too. You also need minerals. Look for a variety of minerals that includes magnesium, zinc, calcium, potassium, iodine, selenium, and manganese.
Choose a multivitamin that contains 100% of the RDA for each of these except calcium and magnesium. Remember, the RDA is the bare minimum that you need to avoid deficiency. When you combine your multivitamin and diet, you will give yourself a better chance at optimal health.
Capsule, Tablet, or Liquid: If you can find a liquid version of the best formula for your health needs, that is ideal. Liquids are easier for your body to absorb, which means you’ll get more out of your multivitamin.
Quality: The final thing to consider when choosing a multivitamin is the quality. This can vary widely from brand to brand. Do some research and read up on consumer reviews. Look for a brand that is trusted. One that I recommend is LifeExtension. You can find their vitamins through their website: lef.org.
Whatever multivitamin you choose, be careful not to overdo it. It’s tempting to think that the more you get of vitamins and minerals the better off you’ll be. That’s not the case. Some vitamins and all minerals can cause real problems if you take them in excess. Don’t supplement with more than 100% of the RDA unless your doctor has told you to.
The unfortunate fact is that most Americans have nutritional gaps. And that makes it very difficult to be at your best. You cannot get optimal nutrition from multivitamins alone, but they can help you to round out what you’re missing. Beyond that if you eat a healthy diet 80% of the time, you’ll be in pretty good shape.